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 HEALTH FORUMS for Spinone Italiano
 Gastrointestinal / Digestive
 Torsion (in the Hunting Dog) by Lisa Boyer, DVM
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Author Previous Topic: Probiotics--The Miracle Within Us,Jeanette Pickett Topic Next Topic: Additional Canine Bloat Info  


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 Posted - 07/24/2010 :  2:53:46 PM Show Profile Visit SpinoneMAX's Homepage Add SpinoneMAX to Buddylist
This article was originally printed in the April 2010 Versatile Hunting Dog (NAVHDA) magazine and permission has been given by the author, Dr. Lisa Boyer, to post on this site.

Dr. Boyer was asked questions by a WPG owner about torsion and the future for her dog. The owner fed her dog 1 - 1 1/2 hours before hunting. Within a few hours after starting to hunt his belly became very full and hard. He seemed to be in pain and then started to vomit. He was taken immediately to an emergency veterinary clinic where they diagnosed him with what was called a torsion. He needed surgery and fortunately, he survived this ordeal. The owner wanted to know why this happened and how she could prevent it in the future. Will this happen again once he has had the surgery?

Dr. Boyer's response:
You ask a great question. Large breed dogs, especially those that are deep chested are prone to bloat and torsion. Bloat (with or without torsion) is a life-threatening condition where the stomach fills with air (dilatation). A volvulus (torsion) , sometimes called gas dilitation volvulus (GDV) is where the stomach bloats and then twists upon itself. Signs of bloat/torsion include drooling of saliva, frequent retching and attempts to vomit, anxiousness, restlessness and pacing, lethargy or agitation, depression and shock. The abdomen may be distended and/or rigid. In the past, only 25% of all dogs with this diagnosis survived. Now however, earlier recognition by owners and treatment by veterinarians increase the survival rate to better than 80%. Early and aggressive intervention is key to treatment success. Treatment generally consists of decompression of the stomach, treatment for shock and medications. Subsequent surgery is done to relieve any torsion and tack the stomach to the body wall. Sometimes, a patient's spleen is damaged in a torsion and must be removed. Post surgery, the first 48 hours are critical and cardiac problems can occur. If the surgery is successful, however, the liklihood of a recurrence of torsion is extremely remote. Any dog can bloat however, high risk dogs are large breed or those with deep chested conformation. There are several things that can be done for prevention. One of my general suggestions is that if you have an "at risk dog" that is being spayed or neutered, you can have a gastropexy (surgery to tack the stomach to the body wall) done at the time of spay/neuter or separately as an elective procedure. When done electively, the risk is minimal and benefits are great. There are some specialists who do this surgery using minimally invasive surgical techniques which further reduce recovery time. Non-surgical prevention of bloat includes feeding smaller, more frequent meals and not feeding either immediately before or after exercise. Feeding dogs from an elevated feeder may increase the risk for bloat. The current literature supports a genetic link for bloat/torsion and some veterinarians recommend not breeding dogs who have developed this condition as it can follow familial lines. For hunting dogs that require feeding out in the field, small meals followed by a rest period are best. If you suspect your dog has bloat, do not give aything by mouth and do not attempt to relieve the gas from the stomach. Transport your dog to your closes emergency veterinary facility or your veterinarian if they are equipped to handle this condition. In your situation, your dog has had the gastropexy and torsion is unlikely. Bloat is still possible, however, and you should continue to feed small, frequent meals and watch the timing of exercise and eating.

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